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Hippopotamus and Esther Restaurants Hatted at Prestigious Food Awards

Posted on: 09 February 2022

QT Hotels & Resorts are thrilled to see two of its New Zealand hotels recognized at the 2021/2022 Cuisine Good Food Awards. QT Wellington’s iconic Hippopotamus Restaurant has retained its two Hats under the guidance of Executive Chef Jiwon Do. Newcomer, Esther at QT Auckland, has earned its first Hat to the delight of the team led by QT Auckland’s Creative Director of Food and Beverage Sean Connolly and Executive Chef James Laird.

Hippopotamus Restaurant has retained its Cuisine’s Top New Zealand Restaurants two Hats, first won in 2019, in the highly sought-after culinary awards for tallying a score of 17/20 which equates to ‘Excellent: up there with the best’.

QT Auckland’s signature restaurant Esther, which opened in 2020, was recognised at the prestigious awards for bringing a taste of Mediterranean to inner-city Auckland. The judges placed the restaurant close on its Wellington sister’s heels, with a tallying score of 16.5/20, resulting in one Hat.

Cuisine selects over 40 experts around the country to anonymously judge restaurants nationwide throughout the year and determine the top 100 list. The awards are viewed globally as the authority on the dining scene in New Zealand.

Ian Charlton, General Manager of QT Wellington, says, Hippopotamus is a Wellington institution focused on authentic French flavour and techniques using hyper-local ingredients. Cuisine’s review praises Hippopotamus, summarising the experience as “Quirky, top-quality and impeccable technique”.

“Jiwon and his entire team live and breathe Hippopotamus, and this is evident by the retention of their two hats. I feel privileged to work with the best of the best, who have a passion and flair for culinary genius and creativity. To enjoy something quirky, innovative and delicious look no further than Hippopotamus.”

Doron Whaite, General Manager of QT Auckland, says Esther’s prestigious Hat win a year after launch is a testament to the tireless work of the restaurant team led by Sean and James.

“Esther offers an immersive food and beverage experience, combining locally-sourced ingredients with design-led interiors and signature service,” Whaite says. “Under Sean’s creative direction, Esther pleases the palate and brings an authentic taste of the Mediterranean’s shores to Viaduct Harbour.”

Cuisine’s review delights in Esther, describing the restaurants as “Smart-casual Mediterranean, sun-soaked dining.”


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